Airports- heaven or hell?

The wild weather that’s battered the south east corner of Australia over the weekend has crept north. I’m currently sitting in Sydney airport waiting for my delayed flight. It’s not a good sign when you’re looking out at the tarmac at departure time and there’s not even an aircraft parked on the bay…

I’m probably one of the few people in the crowded lounge enjoying myself. The faces around me are a mix of resignation, boredom and, for a small few, thwarted anticipation. Cairns is a holiday destination so most people are wearing clothes more suited for the tropics than a cold wet Sydney morning. The aircons blowing cold air. I’m wrapped up as though I’m headed for another adventure in Antarctica (the joy of being a thin blooded frog – or would that be cane toad being a QLDer?)

The languages and accents are varied -French, Chinese, Japanese, American and a smattering of home grown Aussies. Small children run riot, bored and hard to entertain. Harassed parents struggle to keep track. A curly headed little one demands to know what I’m doing. Her mother’s embarrassed, but I don’t mind. She loses interest when she sees no pictures.

I think my love of airports is the main reason I fly aircraft and I love being able to see the other side of my job. I love the cross-section of the community. I love the tears and laughter of farewells and welcomes. I love the frenetic energy.  A writer could find no better place to observe people, listen to the rhythm of their words, the pattern of their speech. There’s no shortage of fashion statements…

My aircraft has finally pulled up on the bay and the team of ground staff have leapt into action, the rain drenching them. Selfishly I’m glad I’m not the one doing a walk round to inspect the aircraft.

Three hours time I’ll be home. Can’t wait for my next flight!


11 thoughts on “Airports- heaven or hell?

  1. Helen, this was an old TU 154. Aeroflot has only just–about two months ago finished flying them. They are still in service with some airlines. About the same age as the old VC-10, I think. I have flown Aeroflot once, never again. My seat was loose, and the catering was done by the same mob that cater the Gulags! Plus, I think the pilot thought he was still flying a MIG

  2. Cathy, sorry to hear you lost your Class One. Sounds like you’ve enjoyed your change of career.

    The Jabiru have certainly changed from their very early models if they now have glass and Garmins! The flights to Bundaberg are always interesting when there are few of them in the circuit – nippy little fellas.

    You’ve flown some interesting aircraft – though, being a beekeeper, I’d have to say you’re beeing 🙂 harsh on bees comparing them to a Bristol Freighter!!

    No I’m not on the 400 yet – C&T on 300s and there’s only two of us doing that at the moment. Our turn will come!

    Have to laugh at your description of an Aeroflot aircraft – haven’t flown Russian. Have travelled to Europe and back in a stack of others over the years…

  3. Phillipa, Maggie and I went thru Changi in 96 on QF9 ex YMML enroute Heathrow. They had turned the airconditioning off in the terminal and it was humid and awful. We had to deplane while the plane was cleaned, refuelled, and the new crew came on; NOT fun. We had pulled in next to an AEroflot Ilyushin. The damn thing was weeping rust. It flew in, but I would not like to have been the poo9r sod of a captain who had to fly that aerial aboortion out of there. I think “Aeroflot” is Russian for “Wings Fall Off” 🙂

  4. Actually, on reflection, that’s being a bit unkind to bumblebees!

    I think the worst plane I ever flew was the Curtiss C-46 Commando.

  5. A computer. I lost my class one medical at age 42. I retrained as a nurse (something I always wanted to do) got out of age care, did Emergency Nursing and Psych. I am now carer for my close friend Maggie’s (she is 45, I am 55) 81 y.o. mum. I only flightsim now, but I would love to do my GA licence If I could ever afford it. Actually If I won Tatt’s I would probably buy a Jabiru 170 with the Full Glass Night VFR flight deck (built around the Garmin 1000 suite. Lovely plane. I take it that you are now rated on the Q400?.

    Yeah the old DC-3 could be quite a handful. Lovely old plane though. Far better than the Bristol Freighter, those things flew like a bumblebee!

  6. I think the worst airport in the world has to be Wellington International (NZWN) I once had 8 tries to land a DC-3 in a Southerly there in the 80’s, finally gave it up as a bad job and diverted to Nelson

  7. I’ve slept a few nights on chairs in Kuala Lumpur (where they were stupid enough to put in armrests so you can’t lie down). Fourteen hours of that is not fun.

    I love most airports, but once I had Christmas Day in Colombo Airport in Sri Lanka – nasty. And India was even worse – would you believe in this day and age I’ve still seen people get on the wrong planes! Once I was flying internationally out of India and the plane was half full of domestic travellers who only just realised in time – and that was after no less than four security checkpoints.

    That said, a lot of the time they’re such great fun. So many dramas and crazy people who are too tired to realise they’re crazy…

  8. 18 hrs is far too long in an airport, Phillipa. The worst I’ve managed was 12 hrs in Heathrow. Staff travel… We were bumped at the last minute and told to come back in 12 hrs for the next flight. We’d already flown down from Manchester and it was post 911 so leaving bags was impossible. We found a row of seats and stretched out. We were a lot younger then…) I think I read two books before we even got on the aircraft. ( We did at least have money!!

    Yep Sandy, same old same old and then more of the same… I do get to fly on Friday though so am very excited!

  9. Ooo, Phillipa, 18 hours, YUK!!! So, Helene, picture books, huh? Might be interesting. And speaking of rhythm of worlds, I see you and B are back into yours. You left Syd yesterday, he went down today. Looks like lovely weather up your end of the world for a cold-blooded frog (You’re a Cairns’er so you’re a green tree frog).

  10. There are airports and then there are airports. A one hour wait in any Australian domestic is a walk in the park compared to some others. For me, my personal hell was 18 hours in Changi Airport in Singapore with no money. I felt my life had finished and I’d fallen through a hole in space/time and was condemned to existence in an endless transit lounge.
    I agree with the people watching aspect – utterly fascinating, and if there is good coffee nearby one becomes reluctant to even board the flight.

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